Wednesday 13 May 2009

Get thee behind me

Back in 2006, I remember having a conversation with a coach about coming up with a way to hit the ball directly behind the wicket. It was apparent that someone would work it out, because it was essentially the only sliver of pitch guaranteed to be empty in T20 games.

Since then, there have been some shots of terrific audacity, little scoops and shovels and flicks that dart from the bottom edge of the bat and travel fine. The idea we discussed was more radical: would it be possible to actually turn around in the direction of the ball and hit it as it goes past? If you could, it would probably be unstoppable. 

I thought of it again on monday, when Eoin Morgan and Nick Compton put on 277 for Middlesex against Kent in the FP Trophy. Morgan's hurling shot has been much remarked on, but some of the others were equally, crazily good, and far more repeatable. It was the first time that the English game appeared to be slightly ahead of the curve again.

Morgan is steel-wristed and offbeat, a freak. England should play him. Compton was in his way more noteworthy - not because he's as good as Morgan, but because he's not. He's simply had the nous and the drive to analyse and reinvent his game. That takes a lack of ego. He's been flat-sharing with Phil Hughes, and perhaps that has spurred him on.

Gloriously, such hitting will eventually lead to the return of the long stop, too.

NB: There's nothing new under the sun of course. I have a copy of Ranjitsinji's Jubilee Book Of Cricket from 1897, in which he plays 'the underleg shot', where he cocks his left leg up and hits the ball underneath it. He looks like he's about to take cocktails in the racquet club as he does so. 


12th Man said...

Most of these shots that took root in T20 cricket have come to dominate the 50-over version as well. The day is not far way when such shots will infiltrate test cricket, especially when a team is trying to set up a fourth innings target to the opposition.

What surprises me somewhat is the risk taken in attempting such shots pays off on most occassions than it fails you.

Even in the IPL, there have been a countable few occasions when a batsman got bowled walking across his stumps trying to scoop it over fine leg.

The Old Batsman said...

Yes, I should have written something about the risk/reward ratio, too. It seems to be coming down as people get better, which makes sense. What i liked about Compton and Morgan was the fact those shots were really drilled, and had obviously been practiced hard.